Michael Wagaman: Lane Kiffin is still the head coach and told reporters earlier this week "There's no way I'm quitting," but it remains to be seen how long he'll stay in town. A blowout loss to San Diego would give Al Davis all the ammunition he needs to fire Kiffin but it would be a move that would be wildly unpopular in the front office and, more importantly, in the locker room where the vast majority of players are in support of their embattled head coach.
RB Darren McFadden
MW: McFadden has been bothered by a turf toe injury for two weeks and it was clearly a factor in his lack of production in the loss to Buffalo. He wore a protective boot and did not practice Wednesday. The team will try to get him to practice later this week but a turf toe injury generally requires a lot of rest. Like he did against the Bills, I'm sure McFadden will try to give it a go against the Chargers but if he can't go for long expect the Raiders to turn the workload over to Michael Bush.
ML: JaMarcus Russell made his first career start against the Chargers in Week 17 last season. In that game, he was sacked four times, fumbled twice and threw an interception. How much improvement has he made since that game? What are some specific areas where he's shown growth?
MW: Russell has grown tremendously in certain areas since then. He's much more comfortable in the pocket, has a better grasp of the overall offense and is using better judgment. But he's still prone to rookie mistakes -- let's face it, he is a rookie for all intents and purposes -- and has a tendency at times to hold onto the ball too long in an effort to wait for something to open up. The biggest stumbling block for him this year has been the supporting cast around him.
WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
MW: The hope was that Javon Walker or Drew Carter could fill that role but Walker has been MIA most of the year while Carter was lost to a season-ending knee injury before the season began. Ronald Curry hasn't caught a pass in two weeks, Ashley Lelie has done a decent job and the most effective receiver -- tight end Zach Miller -- is being keyed on by opposing defenses who are intent on taking him out of the game plan.
ML: The Raiders currently rank No. 26 against the pass. What will they do to slow down Philip Rivers?
MW: The big thing will be how much pressure they can generate up front. Rivers has only been sacked twice in three games so the Raiders will have to find a way to get him out of his comfort zone back in the pocket and get him on the run. Oakland did a great job pressuring Trent Edwards and the Bills early on but inexplicably went to a softer coverage with little, if any, blitzing in the final 6½ minutes of the game when Buffalo rallied to win.
ML: The Chargers have won nine consecutive games in this series. What do the Raiders have to do to prevent that streak from hitting double digits?
MW: Oakland can ill-afford to fall behind early. They don't have the makeup of a team capable of coming from behind. This offense is built to run the ball and if they can do that effectively, the Raiders have a chance because they'll be able to keep the ball out of the hands of San Diego's offense. A team that doesn't have the ball can't score, and considering how deadly the Chargers' offense has been, that might be the only way the Raiders can get it done, by keeping Rivers, LT and Gates on the sidelines.